Like I mentioned a couple of posts back, I recently read, "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I learned While Editing My Life." The title and the jacket summary poorly convey the message of the book. Actually, there is a lot going on in the book, with a bunch of takeaways, so I can see how it might be problematic to convey that in a short summary. The gist of the book, or at least the main message that I took from it, was that you are the author of your own story, and how interesting or engaging your story is is your decision. That is a bit of a simplification, but for the premise of this post, we are going to go with it. The author also touches on the concept of the binding nature of shared experiences. (Something that I have realized is important in our family relationship.)
So, I read this book, and I was all fired up. MLK weekend was coming up, and I was determined to make that Monday a day of family adventure. I did some quick research, and decided that a day-trip to Snoqualmie Falls and the town of Snoqualmie would be perfect. I heated up some leftovers and put them in thermoses for lunch, packed some snacks, made sure that dinner was already made for our return home later that day, and I told the children of our plans.
Cue total melt-down from one of my children. "I don't like hiking! I don't want to goooooo!" *lots of loud screaming, stomping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth*
What the book doesn't discuss is how to create a family story. The author discusses his experience as a then single person. It is hard enough to generate the momentum to write the story of your own life, how much more difficult is it when one (or more!) of your family is kicking and screaming the whole way? The answer? Difficult enough to want to bag the whole thing.
So feeling like a prison warden, I corralled the kids into the van, and we set off on our adventure. And sure enough, once we got in the car and answered the question, "how long is this drive going to be," a dozen times, the kids really enjoyed themselves. We made a quick stop to visit an uncle of Mr. F.'s, had lunch in the back of our van at a gas station (we sure do pick scenic stops!), and then drove to the falls. This kids loved the falls, but tragedy struck again when we saw that the trail was closed due to unsafe conditions. (I guess that is the risk you take when you go in January.)
Cue another meltdown. The child who disliked hiking so much was now inconsolable about the fact that he/she could not actually hike. *lots of yelling*
Again, what they never tell you in blogs, books, movies, etc.: family vacations are never really enjoyable for the parents. If you, as a parent, enjoy your family vacations with your kids, I don't want to hear about it. It is much easier for me to deal with life if I believe this is an unequivocal fact that I just need to come to grips with.
We instead went on a wee urban hike to a nearby bridge upstream from the falls and found stuff to throw in. (Twigs, rocks, small children--I kid!--etc.) Peace restored, we continued on to the town of Snoqualmie where there is a small railway museum with a bunch of retired trains. We met up with Mr. F.'s cousin that just happened to live there, and let the kids wear themselves out climbing about. After I had frozen long enough in the nippy wind that picked up, we popped in the back of the van for another little snack where the kids proceeded to tell me that this was the best adventure EVER(!), and we drove home.
I guess you could say that our attempt at a small entry in our family story was a success! But, man! That success was at a price--the price of my sanity! Of course I will continue to look for opportunities for us to explore and have fun, but the whining that accompanies these trips can really be a killjoy. (But like everything else, I look back on these pictures and have a hard time remembering the bad parts, so I guess that is a good thing.)
I would love to hear what sort of stories you have been writing! Please share.